Leader? You Can't Wait For All Of The Information


The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas - Linus Pauling

Sometimes the worst place to look for answers to questions about your business is your industry.

The Wharton School recently posted a podcast and video with Paul Schoemaker, research director for Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management and author of Winning the Long Game, who makes an important point about strategic leadership.

I particularly appreciated this following response to question about environmental assessment and thought I'd share with you. Strategic leadership involves

....things like how to anticipate changes in the external environment or internally in the organization battle. It could be the ability to challenge yourself and other people’s views, especially in a changing world. Our focus is a bit on how to be strategic when things are changing in the external environment. These elements that I mentioned are especially important for that.

For example, the ability to interpret things that are happening, not through old lenses but new lenses. Then in a world of uncertainty, the ability to make tough decisions. That takes courage. You can’t wait for all the information. That’s a definite leadership skill: the ability to align people around a vision. But how do you do alignment? How do you bridge differences? How do you deal with conflict? Learning is the last. (emphasis supplied)

While Shoemaker offers a framework for working through the challenges of leading, in an age of quarterly results, of data and metrics and measurements, his suggestion that the "formula" for innovation includes a good look around - and the courage to act  - is well taken.

The answers are everywhere.


Image of Ariel Waldman at IdeaFestival 2013 and the fantastic quote behind her:  Some rights reserved by CC Chapman